Casa Rinconada

On the south side of the Chaco Wash, almost directly across from Pueblo Bonito, lies the great subterranean kiva known as Casa Rinconada.

The structure has been carefully aligned to true cardinality. Its north-south axis, established by the line connecting the centers of the north and south doorways, has an azimuth of 359°56'; a perpendicular connecting niches 8 and 22 has an azimuth of 89°52'.


In addition to 28 niches, there are six larger and less regularly spaced wall crypts. During the summer solstice sunrise, a beam of light enters a northeastern opening in the kiva and settles into one of these irregular niches. It is an event which today attracts many spectators, but it may not have been visible or significant during the 11th century.. At one time, a room was constructed outside the crucial opening in Casa Rinconada.
solstice sunrise
Because the original size of its northeast opening is unknown, it is not certain that light entered the kiva through that window prior to reconstruction. Furthermore, if the northeastern post that supported the kiva's roof was 16 inches in diameter or larger, the sunbeam would have been blocked. There is also evidence in the form of small support beams above the niches that a screen of mud and wattle was mounted along the wall thereby covering the niches and preventing sunlight from touching the niche or its contents.

View QuickTime VR Panorama of Casa Rinconada and a reconstructed great kiva.

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